The Works of Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock started out as a journalist and author, writing for main line British newspapers like The London Times and the Economist through the 1980’s. In 1989, he published The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business, which earned a Mencken Award’s Honorable Mention for outstanding book journalism.

In 1992, Hancock swerved into alternative science and history with the publication of The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. In this book Hancock traces the Lost Ark of the Covenant from when it disappears from the Bible to its current resting place in Ethiopia. One reviewer called the work “garbage” with “no scientific merit.”

Hancock’s next book was 1995’s Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization. In this volume, Hancock, basically recapitulates the theory of presented in Atlantis, the Antediluvian World. That is to say, that an advanced civilization once existed on Earth, it was destroyed and the survivors and remnants can be seen in the “sudden” advancement in cultures like Egypt and the Mayans.

The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind (1996) co-authored with Robert Bauval theorizes that the Sphinx and certain other features on the Giza plateau were created in 10,500 BC. This idea is based on astronomical “evidence” that the manmade features were built to replicate and model the stars 10,500 BC.

Next in The Mars Mystery: A Tale of the End of Two Worlds (1998), Hancock supposes a common cosmic disaster that affect both Mars and Earth. He uses the discredited Cydonia “face” as evidence of Mars once having had intelligent life.

In Heaven’s Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization is basically a revision of Fingerprints of the Gods with some new evidence and some pictures taken by his wife, Santha Faiia. He does the same thing again in 2001 with Fingerprints of the Gods: The Quest Continues.

In 2002’s Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Hancock narrows his search for his mythical lost civilization to the bottom of the sea and again with Robert Bauval in 2004’s Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith Hancock explores a giant, thousands years old conspiracy that is organized religion.

And lastly in 2005, Hancock speculates that various psychotropic experiences he and the shamen have had are windows into real alternative dimensions. In Supernatural: Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind Hancock details several drug induced experiences he has had as evidence.

Throughout Hancock’s writings he explores, over and over again, the concept that some 12,000 years ago a highly advanced civilization existed on earth and was then wiped out suddenly. This civilization left behind remnants and hints in the form various monuments like the Great Pyramids and the City of Tiwanaku.

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The Mothman Legend

The Mothman legend is modern urban mythmaking at its finest. First spotted by a pair of gravediggers in November 1966, the man sized figure with demon wings, dark brown and green with glowing red eyes terrorized the area around Point Pleasant West Virginia.

Three days after rising and flapping away from the graveyard, the creature chased two young couples along a lonely country road.

The figure was spotted at least four more times, either lurking around homes or flying through the night sky, over the next ten nights. Dubbed “the Mothman” by a local newspaper writer, the creature soon stopped appearing and faded from interest.

In December 1967, the then 40 year old Silver Bridge connecting West Virginia and Ohio over the Ohio River collapsed under the weight of traffic. 46 people died in the tragedy. At the time no connections between the Mothman and the bridge collapse was made.  As usual with urban myths, it wasn’t until a clever writer seized on the story that the legend was really born. In this case, that clever writer was John Keel, in the book “The Mothman Prophecies” published in 1975, almost ten years after the first Mothman sightings. Keel’s work was based on a less well known book, “The Silver Bridge” by Gary Barker.

Both authors made the connection between the Mothman and the collapse of the bridge and also speculated that the Mothman might have been an alien.  Although the books reprt that  the skies were peppered with UFO sighting at the same time as the Mothman appeared, local newspaper archives do not report any such UFO encounters.

The connection between the Mothman sightings and the bridge tragedy is tenuous at best. Since the Mothman appeared a year before and over forty miles away from the Silver Bridge. “The Mothman Prophecies” by Keel was made into a movie in 2002 starring Richard Gere. Although based on a supposedly non-fiction book, the movie claims to be nothing more than science fiction or fantasy. One of the criticisms of the movie was that it attempted to turn the rather disjoined book into a single tight story line, which the movie failed to do in any real sense.

In short, the story of the Mothman is nothing more than a few fuzzy reports, mostly likely not even connected to one another, much less not connected to the collapse of a bridge miles and away and a year after the last reported sighting of the Mothman.

Sources:

Barker, Gray. The Silver Bridge. Clarksburg: Saucerian Books, 1970.

Keel, John A. The Mothman Prophecies. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1975.

Hyre, Mary. “Winged, Red-Eyed ‘Thing’ Chases Point Couples Across Countryside.” Athens Messenger. 16 Nov. 1966, Vol 61, Number 271: 1.

Nickell, Joe. “Mothman Solved.” Skeptical Inquirer Mailing List. Committee For Skeptical Inquiry, 31 Jan. 2002. Web. 23 Mar. 2008. <http://csicop.org/list/listarchive/msg00317.html&gt;

Phillips, J., Jensen, H. “Loaded with Cars, Big Span to Ohio Collapses in River.” Charleston Daily Mail. 16 Dec. 1967, Volume 149, Number 145: 1-3,6.

The Mitchell-Hedges Skull or the Skull of Doom

The Mitchell-Hedges skull is a clear quartz crystal skull that weighs about 5 Kilograms. The skull is very realistic and even has a detachable jaw.

The occult story goes this way: “The Skull of Doom” was found by then 17 year old Anna Mitchell-Hedges in the 1920’s in the Mayan City of Lubaantun in Central America. Young Anna had accompanied her adaptive father F.A. Mitchell-Hedges who was there searching for the ruins of Atlantis.

The Mitchell-Hedges, both father and daughter, make many claims about the skull. They say that the skull is over 3600 years old and was used by The High Priest of the Mayas in secret and arcane rites. The High Priest could literally will people to death with the skull. They claim that it took 150 years to carve and polish the skull. The pair also called the skull evil.

In 1970, Anna allowed the skull to be examined and several more interesting properties were supposedly discovered. These include that it could be used for srying, or remote viewing, and the skull also emits different lights and sounds based on the relative position of the planets.

The real story is somewhat different. There is no evidence that Anna was even in Belize in the 1920s. It seems that Mitchell-Hedges himself said he had found the skull in the 1930s, not that Anna had found it in the 1920s. In fact, none of Mitchell-Hedges’ writings even mention the skull before 1943, some twenty years after its supposed discovery. It is also clear that the elder Mitchell-Hedges actually bought the skull at a Sotheby’s auction in 1943 for £400.

Over the course of writing two books and giving newspaper interviews the story changed somewhat and also grew in the telling. It wasn’t until 1964 that Anna made the claim that she had actually found the skull in 1928.

Recently Jane MacLaren Walsh of the Smithsonian published an article in the online version “Archaeology” in which she states categorically that she closely examined the “Skull of Doom” including using high powered microscopes and a CT scanner and she concluded that “the skull is not a Maya artifact but was carved with high-speed, modern, diamond-coated lapidary tools….It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Mitchell-Hedges skull, which first appeared in 1933, was also created within a short time of its debut.”

The story of the ‘Skull of Doom” is an excellent example of how a good story will fly in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary.

Sources:

Joe Nickel, with John F. Fischer, “Secrets of the Supernatural: Investigating the World’s Occult Mysteries”, (New York: Prometheus Books, 1991).

Jane MacLaren Walsh, “The Skull of Doom” http://www.archaeology.org/online/ features/mitchell_hedges/

http://crystalinks.com/crystalskulls.html

Evidence of the Existence of Atlantis

Let us be clear: There is no archaeological evidence for the existence of any place called Atlantis. There is no city remains, no walls, not even a potshard that has anything to do with the mythical Atlantis.

The sole and primary source for the legend of Atlantis is the dialogs of Plato. In Timaeus, Plato gives the location and describes in some detail the geography and history of Atlantis. In Critias, Plato tells us that Atlantis became an aggressive power, launching wars conquest and enslaving many people in and around the known world at that time. In a final desperate battle an alliance of Free states, lead by Athens defeated the Atlantean forces. Then, the gods disgusted by the immoral conduct of the Atlanteans wiped the vast island off the face of the Earth in a day and night, using earthquakes and tidal waves to scour the place clean and causing the island to sink below the waves.

Timaeus and Critias followed Plato’s Republic in order of composition. It is clear that Plato was making a political point in his story of Atlantis. In the Republic, he described what he considered to be the ideal society. In the story of Atlantis, Plato offers the counter example and tells what happens when societies become corrupt.

The modern myth of Atlantis was created by Ignatius Loyola Donnelly in Atlantis: The Antediluvian World published in 1882. It is in this work we see the start of modern Atlantis myth. Donnelly’s Atlanteans were god-men, that when their homeland was destroyed moved into other parts of the world and became the models for gods, demi-gods and legendary kings and queens.

Further Helena Blavatsky, glomming on to Donnelly’s ideas, created the notion that the Atlanteans also had airplanes and explosives and were otherwise highly advanced. So-called “Psychic” healer Edgar Cayce claimed to have had psychic knowledge of Atlantean texts which assisted him in his prophecies and cures.

This is of course pure pseudo-history, with no kind of evidence supporting this theory. As one scholar puts it: “It is only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so in antiquity.”*

The latest and most reasonable theory is that the story of Atlantis was inspired by the eruption of Thera, now called Santorini, and the subsequent fall of the advance Minoan culture on the island of Crete.

*Alan Cameron, Greek Mythography in the Roman World, Oxford University Press (2004) p. 124

Sources:

Alan Cameron, Greek Mythography in the Roman World, Oxford University Press (2004)

Garrett G. Fagan, Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public Routledge (2006)

Assessing the Authenticity of the “Bosnian Pyramids”

According to Semir Osmanagic, a self-educated archeologist and so called “pyramid expert”, the oldest and largest pyramid in the world is over 12,000 years old and is located just outside the Bosnian village of Visoko. Osmanagic also claims to have found between 5 and 9 other pyramids in the same area. He quickly named the largest of the group “the Pyramid of the Sun” and in April 2006 started to excavate.

Osmanagic claims that a group of international archeologist helped to dig the site and he and his team did find many interesting things; such as paving stones and an extensive underground tunnel complex. Almost needless to say, Osmanagic has no support for his digs from the scientific archaeology community. It seemed that Osmanagic’s excavation all but destroyed legitimate archeological finds such as a medieval fort named Visoki, some Roman ruins and older sites built by the Illyriians. In fact, the European Association of Archaeologists put out an official statement regarding the so-called “pyramid project” which reads in part: “the undersigned professional archaeologists from all parts of Europe, wish to protest strongly at the continuing support by the Bosnian authorities for the so-called “pyramid” project” and further: “This scheme is a cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public and has no place in the world of genuine science.”

As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So the burden of proof is on Osmanagic. His evidence consisted mostly of photos and videos and the so-called finds have many alternative explanations. For example, Osmanagic’s evidence of the extensive tunnels is an old mine shaft 3 kilometers from Visoica and a local newspaper story about children entering a tunnel on one hill than coming out on another hill. So far, no one has found that tunnel.

As to Osmanagic’s international team of scientists, he said: “our team include experienced archaeologists such as Richard Royce from Australia and Allyson McDavid from U.S. . . “

Royce Richards, not Richard Royce, of Australia called the project “snake oil” and “bollocks”. Allyson McDavid has nothing to do with the project and is an artist, not an archeologist.

A Dr. Ali Barakat from Egypt visited the site, he had been “sent by Cairo” and that he was an “expert in pyramids”. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Chief Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, said of Dr. Barakat: “knows nothing about Egyptian pyramids. He was not sent by the SCA, and we do not support or concur with his statements.”

While it is, of course impossible, to prove that the hill is NOT a pyramid. The burden of proof is on Osmanagic and he has failed to provide any real evidence of his claims.

Sources:

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/osmanagic/update.html

Harding, Anthony. “The Great Bosnian Pyramid Scheme.” British Archaeology. 1 Jan. 2007, Issue 92.

Schoch, Dr. Robert. “The Bosnian Pyramid Phenomenon.” The New Archaeology Review. 1 Sep. 2006, Volume 1, Issue 8: Pages 16-17.

http://www.bosnianpyramid.com/

http://www.eso-garden.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/877/

http://www.e-a-a.org/statement.pdf

The Dogon Sirius Mystery

The Dogon are a tribe of about 100,000 who live in west Africa. According to Robert Temple in his book The Sirius Mystery, they were visited by aliens about 5,000 years ago. These aliens were called the Nommos and came from a planet that orbits the star, Sirius (sometimes called The Dog Star). The only thing the Nommos seem to have done to the Dogon was to pass on some rather esoteric astronomical data. For example, the Nommos supposedly told the Dogon that Sirius is orbited by a white dwarf companion star (Sirius B) and that a complete orbit of Sirius B takes fifty years. Sirius B is, of course, not visible from earth without telescopes. Further Temple goes on to state that the Dogon seemed to have other advanced astronomical knowledge as well; for example they believed in a sun center solar system, and knew about the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. The Dogon did not have telescopes.

Temple’s source for the Sirius story was anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. The two French scientists described a renewal ceremony held every sixty years by the Dogon and was associated with the brightest star in the sky; Sirius. Further the Dogon described ‘po tolo’ or Sirius B. Of course why the Dogon would celebrate a ritual every sixty years for a star that orbits every fifty years is not explained.

However the Frenchmen’s report may have been in error or overblown. According to Thomas Bullard, Griaule either told the Dogon about Sirius B or “he misinterpreted their references to other visible stars near Sirius as recognition of the invisible companion” .

Further, Walter Van Beek a Belgian anthropologist that lived with some eleven years with the Dogon reported on the Sirius “mystery” thusly:

“The Dogon of course, know Sirius as a star [it is after all the brightest star in the sky]… Knowledge of the stars is not important either in daily life or in ritual. The position of the sun and the phases of the moon are more pertinent for Dogon reckoning. No Dogon outside of the circle of Griaule’s informants had ever heard of sigu tolo or po tolo… Most important, no one, even within the circle of Griaule informants, had ever heard or understood that Sirius was a double star.”

The real mystery behind this question is how anyone could take the idea of aliens arriving on earth and just telling people about an invisible star and then flying away again Sirius-ly!

Sources:

Bullard, Thomas. E. “Ancient Astronauts,” in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, ed. G. Stein (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).

Griaule, Marcel. Conversations With Ogotemmeli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas (Oxford University Press 1948/1997).

Temple, Robert G. The Sirius Mystery. (London: Sidwick and Jackson, 1976).

van Beek, Walter E. A. “Dogon Restudied: A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule,” Current Anthropology 32, 1992, pp. 139-167.

The Legend of Madocs Crossing to America

The Madoc legend is one of several pre-Columbian Atlantic Ocean crossing stories that arose shortly after Columbus’ first voyage.  There is no archaeological nor any historical evidence for the voyage of Madoc.

Madoc or Madog, son of Owain, or Owen, was a Welsh prince that supposedly sailed from Wales to America in the year 1170 CE, some three centuries before Christopher Columbus.  The legend states that Madoc took to the sea to escape a brewing civil war in his homeland.  After arriving in North America his crewmen intermarried with Native Americans and their descendants built a number of important monuments in the American Midwest.

The legend of Madoc apparently started in a medieval poem.   The earliest know reference is in a traditional Welsh poem that mentions a Prince Madoc that voyaged to sea, but makes no mention of him finding the New World. The Madoc story reached its widest acceptance during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  The legend was used to support British claims to the New World against the claims of Spain to the same area.  The first recorded claim that Madoc had reached America is in the Cronica Walliae written in 1559.  A Royal Warrant was issued by Queen Elizabeth in 1580 that supposed that a Lord Madoc had built a colony in the new world.

In popular travel books of the late 16th Century CE the claim that Madoc reached the New World was mentioned at least four more times.  One writer, John Dee, in 1589 went on to claim that not only had Madoc reached America but that King Arthur himself had conquered parts of the New World thereby asserting that Elizabeth had a strong prior claim to the whole Western Hemisphere.

The claim that there was a tribe of “Welsh Indians” didn’t appear until 1740 when a Morgan Jones who stated that the Mandan tribe was in fact the descents of Madoc’s Welsh crewmen.  Of course, there is no DNA or other evidence that show that the Mandans or for that matter any other American Indian tribe are descendants of the Welsh.

While certainly an interesting legend, there is no evidence of any kind that proves that a Welsh prince managed a transatlantic voice in the early 12th Century CE.

Sources:

Fowler,  D. D. “A laboratory for Anthropology”.  Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Williams, Gwyn A. “Madoc: The Making of a Myth.” London : Eyre Methuen, 1979